Disclaimer: This post does not provide medical advice. Please always speak with a medical professional about concerns, including those about food allergy treatment.
What do you see when you look at these photos? Just a kid in a donut shop and a plate of ravioli? What’s the big deal? Looks like a bunch of junk toddler food, no?
The big deal is that these were two of the first “normal” meals/foods my child has been able to eat.
With food allergies, we couldn’t just order dinner or stop by somewhere like Dunks. Doing so could result in a life-threatening reaction. Cross contact was always a concern. So were hidden allergens (really….there is currently no requirement for companies to disclose ingredients if they are subcomponents of an ingredient like flavors, oils, spices, etc. unless the item is a Top 8 allergen).
But a year and a half ago, we started treatment for my child’s allergies. And, finally, after diligently keeping our strict treatment schedule, driving into the city regularly from Central Westchester, and a few hiccups, we are approaching the end.
After the allergy treatment, his current allergen dosage, my child can tolerate cross contact or accidental exposure. And that means a heck of a lot more freedom in what (and where) he eats.
What is Oral Immunotherapy?
According to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology, Oral Immunotherapy (OIT) is the process of treating food allergies by slowly desensitizing patients to their allergen by “feeding an allergic individual an increasing amount of an allergen with the goal of increasing the threshold that triggers a reaction.” This process can be risky, and must be done under strict medical supervision.
You should never attempt OIT from home, or without medical supervision.
You can learn more about OIT here.
On our first night of freedom, we ordered dinner from our favorite pizza place. My little one tried ravioli for the first time. The next day he had his first donut. Ever. He is 3 years old. Baked goods are notoriously dangerous for both sesame and tree nut allergies. Thanks to treatment, my child can finally enjoy them (no more baking birthday cakes unless I want to!).
We have since tried ice cream from two of our favorite ice cream stands, pizza from a few favorite pizza spots, burgers WITH THE BUN (obviously one without sesame seeds on top), French fries…all sorts of things most families take for granted having their kids eat, or maybe even judge other parents for feeding their kids. (By the way, next time you look down your nose at a mom for feeding her kid what you deem to be junk, think of my family. You never know the life someone else lives. Stop judging other moms).
We still have so many new foods to try! So much celebrating to get in! We can finally initiate the newest member of our foodie family (we own a restaurant, and my hubby is a classically trained French chef), and it feels like there are no limits.
I’m in disbelief. I’m so, so grateful. This isn’t a cure, of course, and my child still can’t freely eat his allergens. But that is about all he can’t eat.
My child gets to live a safer and more typical life. Outings with friends, movies, birthday parties, dates, vacations to places with limited food options without having to haul in a week’s worth of groceries…they all are suddenly possible, and without my child having to jump through numerous hoops or take numerous risks. His future looks a heck of a lot brighter, and I couldn’t be happier.
I understand treatment isn’t an option for all families. I even feel a bit of survivor’s guilt in having so much freedom; both my son and I have food allergies, but we now have very few limits because of desensitization. But I also know food allergy treatment continues to emerge and become more widespread. As they do, I hope this will become a reality for other food allergy families. Because every food allergy patient deserves to live safer and healthier lives.